Policy Board Minutes——10 May 2017

3:30 p.m.

UC 402/3


PB members: Nola Agha, Rachel Brahinsky, Brandon Brown, Robin Buccheri, Suparna Chakraborty, Jennifer Dever, Joe Garity, Sharon Gmelch, Candice Harrison, Ted Matula, Gabe Maxson, Elliot Neaman, Gleb Nikitenko, Mary Jane Niles, Meera Nosek, Julia Orri, Sonja Poole, Stefan Rowniak, Steve Roddy, Calla Schmidt, Claire Sharifi, Brian Weiner. Maggie Winslow

USFFA members: Cathleen Coll, Amy Dowling, Lily Dube, Doreen Ewert, Tony Fels, Evelyn Ho, Dorothy Kidd, Michelle LaVigne, Brandi Lawless, Zhiqiang Li, Rebecca Mason, Matt Monnot, Evelyn Rodriguez, Stephanie Sears, James Taylor, Stephanie Vandrick, Robert Varea, Annick Wibben  


The minutes from April 12th were approved.



  1.      Neaman noted that this year’s applicants for tenure and promotion should be aware of the new language in CBA Article 17.7, stipulating that the applicant can suggest external reviewers and the Dean shall “make a good faith effort” to consider at least one of the four for outside review.
  2.      The Pre and Post Sabbatical Merit Fund deadline is May 15th, but for this year only, term sabbatical applications will be due May 31th.
  3.      Long Term Health Care Insurance: this item was negotiated in the new contract, but in order for it to go into effect 40 employees at USF need to sign up. Human Resources is in the process of sending out a notice to find out how many would buy this type of insurance.
  4.      Faculty Development Funds: unused funds will be put back into the main pool for redistribution on June 1. (Update: this deadline has been moved to August 31st). The reason for this change is that the original intention of the FDF was to have each project funded individually, but some schools divide up the money equally among its faculty. This creates “individual accounts” which often remain unused for long periods of time. This was not the original intent of the FDF and so each year unused money will be redistributed back into the FDF account.



New Business

  1.     Open Forum

Paul Lorton distributed a handout about faculty workload, particularly in regard to 22.4.1. He wished to have the Policy Board discuss the issue in the future of faculty members who wish to remain at a 12 unit teaching assignment load but are forced by the administration to engage in research instead.


A request was made by several faculty for more disclosure about USFFA finances. Rebecca Mason specifically asked where information can be found on the USFFA website as the only information there seems dated. Neaman said that the annual budget contains more or less the same items every year; the large bulk of dues going to CFT/AFT. The rest of the money is spent on legal and consulting, salaries, the two annual dinners (New Faculty and Awards and Retirement) and smaller sundry expenses such as office supplies. The USFFA is audited regularly. The audits and financial statements are on the USFFA website (usffa.net). There is a lag of two years for the financial statements because of auditing. Currently the 2013 and 2014 financial statements are on the website and paper copies for 2012, 2013, and 2014 are available in Gleeson Library. http://ignacio.usfca.edu/record=b2071574. Neaman said that as soon the latest financial statements are available they will be posted (the 2015 statement will be available in June). In a follow up question Kathleen Coll asked if there was a reason why USFFA does not have a budget process and several faculty asked that the budget be made more transparent and be shared with the membership each year (not just in retrospect in terms of audits); receiving support from Brandon Brown. Coll asked why the USFFA does not have budgets. Neaman responded that the union was set up from its founding to rely on financial statements because the amounts spent don’t vary much from year to year. The important thing to know is what was spent and that is all very clear in the financial statements. Evelyn Ho also proposed that if so much money goes to CFT/AFT, we should be engaging in their activities and draw on the resources they provide for training, negotiations and more. This should be explored. (Note the USFFA does use the services of the CFT for negotiations and does use some of their training services, but much of what the CFT offers has to do with K-12 education.)


Michelle Lavigne asked about the Task Forces recently negotiated. Neaman said that the administration has asked for two weeks delay before we set the composition of the Task Forces because the trustees are also setting up their own committees which may be investigating some of the same issues. LaVigne asked if that means we will change the mandates of our Task Forces? Neaman said that the Task Forces are contractual and we only responded to a reasonable request for a short delay. No changes to the Task Forces will be made without consultation with our members and would only be done on a contractual basis.


  1.        Main Agenda Item: Recusal Policy for Tenure and Promotion

Neaman said that the goal for today should be whether or not to follow the decision from the December 7th2016 Policy Board meeting, at which time the PB voted to establish a recusal policy. Neaman had sent a memo to PB before the meeting listing the three options discussed at the last PB meeting on April 12th, plus a fourth option that came out of the discussion last time.

Brown noted that PB, as a group, had not had the opportunity to discuss the issue at hand, as they had been doing more listening than discussing since learning of this issue at the December 7th PB meeting; he then suggested that some time be made in the current meeting to at least hear the thoughts of most or all PB members.


Annick Wibben said that after the last discussion, she and Amie Dowling had reached out to Peer Review members to inform the PB on the process used during T & P deliberations. Wibben read two statements, one from Bernadette Barker-Plummer who has served on the APRC twice and has also chaired it and one from Paul Zeitz a current member of the peer review committees (attached). Both statements spoke against making a new recusal policy based on the argument that the peer review process is intact, contains enough safeguards and does not need a formal mechanism for recusals.


James Taylor spoke next. He spoke at length about his objections to how the recusal request was made to him in the Fall of 2016. He said that the request was made at the last minute and so the PRC was thrown into disarray not knowing how to deal with Tony Fels’ application. He said that the recusal request was not necessary, because he would have supported the Fels application, as he does for everyone. He also expressed his frustration with the reason for the recusal requests, which were emails that he had sent to Fels in the past. He said that he had never had any kind of confrontation with Fels on a personal level, and even the emails in question had concluded with encouraging words about Fels and his progress towards promotion. He said that Fels was involved in many difficult issues with his own history department. Taylor recounted how disturbed he was by the recusal request last fall, which came both after 2 1/2 years of working as an arbitrator on the Dube case as a member of the Policy Board, and about at the same time that he was dealing with difficult situations in his family and personal life. He expressed gratitude to friends and colleagues who had supported him through these difficult times, and the principle of Faculty oversight. He outlined the various struggles for social justice on campus, including the issues surrounding Upward Bound, KUSF and other developments on campus. He mentioned that the UPRC held their meeting on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and should never have permitted such a thing, as part of the larger discussion of social justice and the Policy Board. He addressed the Policy Board, the Executive Board, and insisted that the President and all members of the Executive Board should resign.


Agha stated that although we had intended to establish a policy today, with the little time remaining we should simply hear the remaining testimony so we can move on to making decisions about policy at the next meeting.


Stephanie Vandrick, a former member of the peer review committees, spoke out against a recusal policy. She said that there are many levels of checks and balances already in place. She said that bias can come in the form of favoring a candidate just as much as being negative about a candidate. But all these kinds of issues can be resolved and are dealt with without a recusal policy.


Roberto Varea, also a former member of the peer review committees, said that he was against a recusal policy, since the PRC is an ethical committee which does excellent work. He added that mechanisms are already in place to allow for transparency and which support the candidates.


Lilian Dube spoke next. She said that she was very torn because she considered both Taylor and Neaman to be like brothers to her. She said that the President of the Faculty Association had helped her enormously in her struggles with the University on very difficult matters. Now she finds herself on the opposite side of the recusal issue from Taylor. She was in favor of a recusal policy because there needs to be mechanisms in place to protect USFFA members. She said that those who have spoken out against the recusal policy do not understand how unjustly she has been treated.


Zhiqiang Li, the 2016-17 chair of the APRC spoke next. He said that each application for tenure and promotion is handled with care and integrity. He reiterated what Taylor had said, that the recusal request had thrown the committee into confusion.

Neaman said that one way or another we have to decide on a policy, even if that means establishing the policy that applicants will not have a formal mechanism for a recusal request. Chakraborty suggested that we should hear from untenured colleagues. In response, Brandi Lawless spoke up identifying herself as someone that is up for tenure and promotion this year. She said as a faculty member going up for tenure this coming year she was concerned about a recusal policy being used by people to “cherry pick” who reviews their application.


Since time had run out, the meeting was adjourned.


The meeting was adjourned at 17:07.

Submitted by Julia Orri

Secretary, USFFA

Recusal Policy DiscussionsRecusals for Peer-Review members